I got engaged two months after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton. Surprisingly, I wasn’t jealous that she was going to be a Princess, but I did wish for myself another title that she now had: fiancé. Again surprisingly, I didn’t want this title for myself. I wanted to call Bill something besides “my boyfriend”. I felt a little silly calling up Nimi’s vet and saying “my boyfriend will pick up her medication”. It either felt like we were still in high school and “going steady” or trailer park trashy people that aspired to be a common law “boyfriend” for life. It just didn’t encompass what he was to me. When we had first started dating, I couldn’t say it at first. Bill’s mom actually gave my dad the first of probably many mini coronaries by saying “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” approximately sixteen times during dinner one night during the week we had started dating. I just said “Billy”, because I never needed to qualify it to anyone. At school, all my friends knew him as my prom date. I never had to say “I’m calling my boyfriend” or “I’m visiting my boyfriend” until I got to college. And boy, there, did I get sick of that word.
Every weekend night- “I have a boyfriend.” “I have to call my boyfriend.” “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” “Oh, my boyfriend goes there!” “My boyfriend is obsessed with Call of Duty too!” “I’m visiting my boyfriend.” “I can’t go out, I have to call my boyfriend.” “Hey, get away from me, I have a boyfriend.” “Can I borrow your car to go visit my boyfriend?” I got sooooo unbelievably sick of hearing myself say “boyfriend” over and over. Even the Ashlee Simpson song and hearing other people say it was a relief. Over the college years, I finally was able to use his name with the people that got to know him, but it was still “My boyfriend lives out in California” when a plane neighbor would ask me why the hell I was flying to San Jose at 10:00 on a Thursday night from Baltimore all by myself.
The word didn’t mean enough, maybe because I had used it and dragged it to the point of death a hundred times over, but I think it was also because everyone had one. Eighth-graders had “boyfriends”. My sister had a boyfriend. Even Kim Kardashain had three different boyfriends during the span of Bill’s and my relationship. He was more than my “boyfriend” because he was everything. When I said “my boyfriend”, people didn’t know if we had been dating ten years or ten minutes; they didn’t know how madly in love and besotted I was, and how much I needed to be in his world.
I wasn’t going to visit my “boyfriend” on the weekends- I was going home where I felt complete and happy and warm and comfortable. I didn’t want to look for grad schools close to where my “boyfriend” would be living- I needed my life to be near his life, because I didn’t like my life without him. I didn’t want to be away from him, and I didn’t know why I should be. People search their whole lives for what I found when I was seventeen- why was I distancing myself and not taking advantage of what I had?
So he got the hint that I wanted to call him something besides my “boyfriend”. One of my favorite things about being engaged is hearing him say “my fiancée”. He’s so into it, and it’s the cutest, most delicious sound in the world. Right after we were engaged, like two days later, he was going out with a friend who had stopped by, and on the phone I asked him what he was wearing out for drinks. “The outfit I wore to propose to you.” It just made me giddy how cool he was, how comfortable he was with the new step. It eliminated all little doubts I had about dropping too many hints and pressuring him to put a ring on it. On the phone, it was “I have to talk to my fiancée about some stuff”(this was during an adorable awkward encounter where he had asked the wrong friend to be a groomsmen via voicemail) I had finally weathered the “boyfriend” years, and now got to start over with a new title, of “fiancé”, where people knew just by listening to me speak, how in love I am and how much my life is intertwined with his.
Sure, Kate Middleton will beat me to “wife” and she’ll always have “Princess”, but I sure am enjoying “fiancee” while I can.